As hunters throughout Louisiana make final preparations for the first shots of the 2013-14 dove season starting up Sept. 7, another group of people is also busily preparing for opening weekend.
Capt. Robert Buatt, Region 5 commander with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said enforcement agents across the state will be working to make sure everyone has a safe, enjoyable time in the fields.
“Our goal is that everybody pays attention to the regulations and stays within the limits,” Buatt said. “We will be out on patrol and will be conducting field checks wherever people may be dove hunting.”
It is the hunter’s responsibility to make they are not hunting over baited fields, he said.
“We know that people, especially when they’re invited on a large dove hunt, may not know if a field is baited,” Buatt said. “And I know it’s difficult to ask, ‘Hey is this field baited?’ without insulting your host. So we recommend that you look around your immediate area to check for bait.
“Anything that doesn’t look right should throw up some red flags,” he said. “Maybe you might want to excuse yourself from that hunt.”
He also urged everyone to use caution, especially in situations where numerous hunters are in the same field.
“Always know where other people are hunting in relation to you. Avoid shooting in a direct line towards anyone else hunting in that field, and always know what lies beyond your target,” Buatt said. “Try to always shoot upward at birds in flight rather than parallel to the ground.”
If you disassembled your gun last year, or if you’re using a borrowed gun on opening weekend, Buatt recommended double-checking to make sure that it’s legal.
“Check to make sure the plug is in your shotgun, because it’s illegal to hunt doves with a shotgun that’s capable of holding more than three shells,” he said.
Finally, he said to make sure you have the property owner’s permission to be hunting on a particular site.
“One of the main messages is to be a good ethical hunter and always respect the landowner,” Buatt said. “As I’ve always been taught, when you’re allowed to go some place to hunt or enjoy an outdoor activity, always leave the place cleaner than when you found it.”